Letter to Jacquie (#2)

On the impossibility of having a coffee with you

Dear Jacquie,

This letter is not a masterpiece, so my apologies from the off. I’m practising the art of imperfection and aiming for *good enough*. It goes against the grain on account of my tendency to overthink everything. It turns out I’m not very good at being casual and letting go. No surprises there, I know.

It’s fitting that I should write to you since you were the first person to read my stuff – those terrible poems – all those years ago. I don’t know how you found something within them worth encouraging, but you did, and I know it wasn’t just out of sheer politeness. I remember ‘Lizard’s Ring’ with horror, although, at the time, I was proud of it, blissfully unaware that there was no spoiler: the lizard was really a girl. I filled notebooks with terrible Jim Morrison imitations, but I was more like Morrissey. I just didn’t want to be. It took me years to write ‘what I know’ and succumb to my awkward perspective, my strange slant on the world. So thank you for your part in making me realise that it’s our very strangeness that is interesting, our unique perspective that must be tapped and distilled to produce our best work.

It’s funny, you’re so proud of your work at first, so sure it’s brilliant when it’s likely not very good, and when you finally get good, you’re convinced it’s bad. If it was the confidence of youth, what now? After a lifetime of trying to express myself in words, I don’t think there’s any point in stopping, regardless of my current issues.

You chose to ignore the calling, but you were a writer, albeit a writer who rarely wrote and never published. I think about that sometimes – especially since I often feel myself going that way, veering dangerously into the territory of unrealised manuscripts and hopes. I’m too stubborn, though. I know that. Something keeps me going, despite my dissatisfaction with everything I produce. I’m blessed and cursed by a strange compulsion. Sometimes, I can hear your encouragement – Keep writing, make music and art, don’t throw anything away. It’s good advice. Thank you.

I’m trying.

You were trying to finish a poem at the end. I don’t know if you managed to find the words. I can’t help but hope you did. Words fail me most of the time, but I keep typing, in hope.

Love always,


P.S. I’m playing R.E.M, and it occurs to me, again, the impossibility of having a coffee with you. I wish I could come for coffee. I miss those grey afternoon conversations. I put the kettle on and think of the good times. I listen to the beautiful, sad songs. I even smile.